The entire internet has bemoaned the ballooning size of pickup trucks for what seems like forever. “Give us the old Ranger and S10,” keyboard warriors (quietly) shout. Ford’s kept the Ranger nameplate on a slightly larger truck, but brought back another old name for their new truck that is, well, kind of an old Ranger in spirit. The 2022 Ford Maverick is the brand’s newest and smallest truck, and it is all the truck most buyers need.
What Is It?
This is a 2022 Ford Maverick Lariat EcoBoost. The truck is all new for the 2022 model year and rides on a modified version of Ford’s C2 platform, which underpins the Ford Escape, Ford Bronco Sport, and Lincoln Corsair crossovers. Overall length is up, at 199.7 inches, and ground clearance splits the difference between Escape/Corsair and Bronco Sport at 8.6 inches.
Ford offers three trim levels of Maverick, keeping things simple. Basic Maverick XL trucks are reasonably equipped – though again, the entire internet seems disproportionally irritated by the lack of cruise control – XLT has everything most will want, and Lariat is the “fancy” model.
While Ford’s 2.0-liter EcoBoost four is optional across all trims, Ford made waves at Maverick’s launch by choosing a standard hybrid engine that allows for roughly 40 miles per gallon out of the small truck. Maverick Hybrid models are only sold as front-wheel drive, where the EcoBoost can be paired to front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive. My test truck was an AWD EcoBoost model, producing 250 horsepower and 277 lb-ft of torque and sending it to all four wheels through an eight-speed torque-converter automatic.
Ford claims 1,500 pounds of payload for all Mavericks – mine indicated slightly less on its doorjamb sticker – and a base tow rating of 2,000 pounds. If properly equipped – mine was not – the AWD EcoBoost Maverick can be rated to tow 4,000 pounds, thanks to a bigger radiator, transmission cooler, upgraded engine fan, and different axle gearing.
Price of my 2022 Ford Maverick Lariat EcoBoost came in around $38,000 for a mostly-loaded example. The most basic front-drive Maverick Hybrid XL starts at a wildly-affordable $19,995 MSRP.
Ford’s ‘Just Right’ Truck
I really admire the fact that Ford went deliberately small with the Maverick. Their current Ranger is a bit of a RINO – Ranger in Name Only – if you’re a fan of older compact trucks. The Maverick is eleven inches shorter than a current Ranger and thirty-two inches shorter than an F-150.
Look, nobody bought an old Ranger thinking it would tow a ton of weight or fit gigantic things in the bed – but those trucks worked for so many other reasons. I managed to park next to a 2002-ish Ranger while driving the Maverick, and the size was remarkably similar, albeit with more cab and less bed.
Ford calls the Maverick’s 4.5-foot bed a “FlexBed,” and it is full of clever bits to explore. Slots are stamped in to the bed sides, where wood dividers may go. Threaded holes are seemingly everywhere. Two tie-downs and four D-rings let you secure cargo. Pockets near the tailgate are pre-wired for accessories you may add.
According to Ford, the FlexBed passed the same drop tests as their F-150 and SuperDuty trucks, as did the tailgate when testing strength.
Size-wise, I really appreciated the Maverick in a few ways. It’s comfortable up front for tall people and is generally easy to drive and park. The bed is big enough to be useful, and the tailgate can be positioned halfway for the all-important “sheet of plywood” test – they’ll lay flat from wheel wells to tailgate. Bed height is also reasonable, with no need for tailgate steps or anything ridiculous. Even shorter people can just… reach in to the bed.
Back seat space is the only downside to the Maverick – Ford wanted to keep the truck’s overall length reasonable, and second row space suffers as a result. Even some average-height friends felt a touch cramped, though there was enough room for an hour or so back there.
Driving the 2022 Ford Maverick
I like the 2.0-liter EcoBoost, it’s a punchy engine with plenty of power and torque. If you just want “the most” or if you plan to tow much of anything, you’ll have to choose this engine. I do think the magic of the Maverick comes in to play much more if you choose a hybrid model, though, and I wished mine were a hybrid as 4,000 pounds of towing isn’t really enough for a car (our focus here) so… why not get 40 miles per gallon?
Beyond the engine, the Maverick was generally pleasant to drive. Steering feel was car-like, a nod to the shared C2 platform and a net positive compared to ponderous, vague steering of compact trucks decades prior. Brakes were more than fine with good pedal feel throughout its travel. Ride quality was generally good, if a touch on the stiff side… but acceptable given Ford’s desire to make the Maverick as capable of a small truck as they could.
Going back, again, to my “older Ranger” comparison, the 2022 Ford Maverick feels like a heavily, heavily evolved Ranger that is actually pleasant to drive day to day on the street. Will it do as well off-road? No. Most owners won’t go very far off-road, though, so Ford kept focus (pun not intended) on street-oriented behavior.
The 2022 Ford Maverick is absolutely not a truck for everyone. It’s not trying to be. And it’s better off for having a tighter mission. Not everyone wants or needs something as large or capable as a modern Ranger or F-150, and the fact that Ford has added a smaller option to their lineup is commendable. It’s even more exciting when you consider the starting price, the general affordability, the fun colors offered inside and out, and the cleverness of the whole thing.
Would I pick out the exact 2022 Ford Maverick I tested? No. I think the Maverick’s sweet spot between features and pricing is more of an XLT in hybrid form for mid- to high-twenties. Or, stick with XLT but make it the most capable with all-wheel drive and the 4K Tow package for a hair above $30,000.
In any case, this is one clever truck, and it’s all the truck most buyers need.